Department of Labor Logo United States Department of Labor
Dot gov

The .gov means it's official.
Federal government websites often end in .gov or .mil. Before sharing sensitive information, make sure you're on a federal government site.

Https

The site is secure.
The https:// ensures that you are connecting to the official website and that any information you provide is encrypted and transmitted securely.

Food Processing Equipment Workers

Summary

Please enable javascript to play this video.

Video transcript available at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f4-XVwJkHBg.
Quick Facts: Food Processing Equipment Workers
2021 Median Pay $35,430 per year
$17.03 per hour
Typical Entry-Level Education See How to Become One
Work Experience in a Related Occupation None
On-the-job Training Moderate-term on-the-job training
Number of Jobs, 2020 250,100
Job Outlook, 2020-30 5% (Slower than average)
Employment Change, 2020-30 12,900

What Food Processing Equipment Workers Do

Food processing equipment workers operate machinery that mixes, cooks, or processes ingredients for manufacturing food products.

Work Environment

Most food processing equipment workers are employed in manufacturing facilities. Because of production schedules, shift work is common and may include early mornings, evenings, or nights. Most food processing equipment workers are employed full time.

How to Become a Food Processing Equipment Worker

Education requirements vary for food processing equipment workers. Some typically need no formal education credential; however, others typically need a high school diploma or equivalent.

Pay

The median annual wage for food and tobacco processing workers was $35,430 in May 2021.

Job Outlook

Overall employment of food processing equipment workers is projected to grow 5 percent from 2020 to 2030, slower than the average for all occupations.

Despite limited employment growth, about 32,600 openings for food processing equipment workers are projected each year, on average, over the decade. Most of those openings are expected to result from the need to replace workers who transfer to different occupations or exit the labor force, such as to retire.

State & Area Data

Explore resources for employment and wages by state and area for food processing equipment workers.

Similar Occupations

Compare the job duties, education, job growth, and pay of food processing equipment workers with similar occupations.

More Information, Including Links to O*NET

Learn more about food processing equipment workers by visiting additional resources, including O*NET, a source on key characteristics of workers and occupations.

What Food Processing Equipment Workers Do About this section

Food and tobacco processing workers
A food batchmaker stirs curd to make cheese.

Food processing equipment workers operate machinery that mixes, cooks, or processes ingredients for manufacturing food products.

Duties

Food processing equipment workers typically do the following:

  • Set up, start, or load food processing equipment
  • Check, weigh, and mix ingredients according to recipes
  • Set and control temperatures, flow rates, and pressures of machinery
  • Monitor and adjust ingredient mixes during production processes
  • Observe and regulate equipment gauges and controls
  • Record batch production data
  • Clean workspaces and equipment according to health and safety standards
  • Check final products to ensure quality

Food processing equipment workers often have different duties depending on the type of machinery they use or the goods they process. Job titles may be specific to the type of food workers produce.

Food and tobacco roasting, baking, and drying machine operators and tenders run equipment that uses dry heat to make food or tobacco products. For example, coffee roasters follow recipes and tend machines to produce standard or specialty coffees; dryers of fruits and vegetables operate machines that produce raisins, prunes, and other dehydrated foods.

Food batchmakers operate equipment that mixes or blends ingredients to produce shelf-stable, refrigerated, or frozen foods. For example, cheese makers load raw ingredients into machinery, monitoring the temperature and consistency throughout the production process; candy makers may operate machinery to shape, stretch, or mold lollipops, gumdrops, and other sweets.

Food cooking machine operators and tenders oversee equipment that makes steamed, fried, boiled, or related food products. For example, dumpling machine operators set up and monitor commercial steamers and potato chip manufacturing workers may operate frying equipment.

Other food processing equipment workers operate machines that mix spices, mill grains, or extract oil from seeds.

Work Environment About this section

Food and tobacco processing workers
Food processing workers often work on a production line and stand most of the time.

Food and tobacco processing workers held about 250,100 jobs in 2020. Employment in the detailed occupations that make up food and tobacco processing workers was distributed as follows:

Food batchmakers 159,300
Food processing workers, all other 45,000
Food cooking machine operators and tenders 26,800
Food and tobacco roasting, baking, and drying machine operators and tenders 19,000

The largest employers of food and tobacco processing workers were as follows:

Food manufacturing 74%
Employment services 6
Food and beverage stores 5

Food manufacturing facilities are typically large, open-floor areas with loud machinery. When operating cooking equipment, workers are frequently exposed to high temperatures. When working with goods that need to be refrigerated or frozen, they may be exposed to cold temperatures for long periods.

Depending on the type of food being processed, workers may be required to wear ear protection to guard against hearing loss in noisy facilities. They also may wear masks, hairnets, or gloves to prevent product contamination.

Workers usually stand during their shifts while tending machines or observing the production process. Loading, unloading, or cleaning equipment may require lifting, bending, and reaching.

Injuries and Illnesses                         

Food processing workers, all other, have one of the highest rates of injuries and illnesses of all occupations. ("All other" titles represent occupations with a wide range of characteristics that do not fit into any of the other detailed occupations.) Working around hot liquids or machinery that cuts or presses can be dangerous. Common injuries include cuts or result from slips and falls.. To reduce the risks of injuries, workers are required to wear protective clothing and nonslip shoes.

Work Schedules

Most food processing equipment workers are employed full time; part-time work may be common for food cooking machine operators and tenders. Because of production schedules, shift work is common and may include early mornings, evenings, or nights.

Some food processing positions are seasonal.

How to Become a Food Processing Equipment Worker About this section

food and tobacco processing workers image
Experienced workers show trainees how to properly use equipment.

Education requirements vary for food processing equipment workers. Some typically need no formal education credential; however, others typically need a high school diploma or equivalent. Food processing equipment workers usually learn their skills through on-the-job training.

Education

Employers may require or prefer that applicants to food processing equipment jobs have a high school diploma or equivalent.

Because these workers often adjust the quantity of ingredients that go into a mix, math and reading skills are helpful.

Training

Food processing equipment workers learn on the job. Training may last from a few weeks to a few months. During training, workers learn health and safety rules related to the type of food that they process, as well as how to operate specific equipment and detect malfunctions.

Experienced workers typically teach trainees how to properly use and care for equipment.

Important Qualities

Detail oriented. Workers must be able to detect small changes in the quality or quantity of food products. They must also follow health and safety standards to avoid injury and prevent food contamination.

Physical stamina. Workers stand for long periods as they tend machines and monitor the production process.

Physical strength. Food processing equipment workers must be able to lift or move heavy boxes of ingredients, which may weigh up to 50 pounds.

Math skills. Workers may need math skills in order to accurately mix specific quantities of ingredients.

Pay About this section

Food Processing Equipment Workers

Median annual wages, May 2021

Total, all occupations

$45,760

Production occupations

$37,710

Food and tobacco processing workers

$35,430

 

The median annual wage for food processing equipment workers was $35,430 in May 2021. The median wage is the wage at which half the workers in an occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $23,790, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $47,700.

Median annual wages for food processing equipment workers in May 2021 were as follows:

Food cooking machine operators and tenders $35,890
Food batchmakers 35,780
Food and tobacco roasting, baking, and drying machine operators and tenders 35,480
Food processing workers, all other 31,890

In May 2021, the median annual wages for food and tobacco processing workers in the top industries in which they worked were as follows:

Food manufacturing $36,260
Food and beverage stores 30,140
Employment services 29,560

Most food processing equipment workers are employed full time; part-time work may be common for food cooking machine operators and tenders. Because of production schedules, shift work is common and may include early mornings, evenings, or nights.

Some food processing positions are seasonal.

Job Outlook About this section

Food Processing Equipment Workers

Percent change in employment, projected 2020-30

Total, all occupations

8%

Food and tobacco processing workers

5%

Production occupations

0%

 

Overall employment of food processing equipment workers is projected to grow 5 percent from 2020 to 2030, slower than the average for all occupations.

Despite limited employment growth, about 32,600 openings for food processing equipment workers are projected each year, on average, over the decade. Most of those openings are expected to result from the need to replace workers who transfer to different occupations or exit the labor force, such as to retire.

Employment

Population growth and continuing consumer preference for convenience foods are expected to drive the demand for food, which will in turn require more food processing equipment workers to produce it. However, food manufacturing companies continue to pursue more automation in processing to raise productivity. For example, they use equipment that automatically weighs and mixes ingredients, requiring fewer processing workers. As these companies streamline production processes and implement more automation, they will need fewer workers to operate machines, and this may constrain occupational growth.

Employment projections data for food processing equipment workers, 2020-30
Occupational Title SOC Code Employment, 2020 Projected Employment, 2030 Change, 2020-30 Employment by Industry
Percent Numeric

SOURCE: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Employment Projections program

Food and tobacco processing workers

250,100 263,000 5 12,900

Food and tobacco roasting, baking, and drying machine operators and tenders

51-3091 19,000 19,900 4 800 Get data

Food batchmakers

51-3092 159,300 168,300 6 8,900 Get data

Food cooking machine operators and tenders

51-3093 26,800 28,200 5 1,400 Get data

Food processing workers, all other

51-3099 45,000 46,700 4 1,700 Get data

State & Area Data About this section

Occupational Employment and Wage Statistics (OEWS)

The Occupational Employment and Wage Statistics (OEWS) program produces employment and wage estimates annually for over 800 occupations. These estimates are available for the nation as a whole, for individual states, and for metropolitan and nonmetropolitan areas. The link(s) below go to OEWS data maps for employment and wages by state and area.

Projections Central

Occupational employment projections are developed for all states by Labor Market Information (LMI) or individual state Employment Projections offices. All state projections data are available at www.projectionscentral.com. Information on this site allows projected employment growth for an occupation to be compared among states or to be compared within one state. In addition, states may produce projections for areas; there are links to each state’s websites where these data may be retrieved.

CareerOneStop

CareerOneStop includes hundreds of occupational profiles with data available by state and metro area. There are links in the left-hand side menu to compare occupational employment by state and occupational wages by local area or metro area. There is also a salary info tool to search for wages by zip code.

Similar Occupations About this section

This table shows a list of occupations with job duties that are similar to those of food processing equipment workers.

Occupation Job Duties ENTRY-LEVEL EDUCATION Help on Entry-Level Education 2021 MEDIAN PAY Help on Median Pay
Agricultural and food science technicians Agricultural and Food Science Technicians

Agricultural and food science technicians assist agricultural and food scientists.

Associate's degree $44,700
Bakers Bakers

Bakers mix ingredients according to recipes in order to make breads, pastries, and other baked goods.

No formal educational credential $29,750
butchers and meat cutters image Butchers

Butchers cut, trim, and package meat for retail sale.

No formal educational credential $36,050
Cooks Cooks

Cooks season and prepare foods, including soups, salads, entrees, and desserts.

See How to Become One $29,120
Food preparation workers Food Preparation Workers

Food preparation workers perform many routine tasks under the direction of cooks, chefs, or food service managers.

No formal educational credential $28,780
Metal and plastic machine workers Metal and Plastic Machine Workers

Metal and plastic machine workers set up and operate equipment that cuts, shapes, and forms metal and plastic materials or pieces.

See How to Become One The annual wage is not available.
Suggested citation:

Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Food Processing Equipment Workers,
at https://www.bls.gov/ooh/production/food-and-tobacco-processing-workers.htm (visited July 04, 2022).

Last Modified Date: Monday, May 23, 2022

What They Do

The What They Do tab describes the typical duties and responsibilities of workers in the occupation, including what tools and equipment they use and how closely they are supervised. This tab also covers different types of occupational specialties.

Work Environment

The Work Environment tab includes the number of jobs held in the occupation and describes the workplace, the level of physical activity expected, and typical hours worked. It may also discuss the major industries that employed the occupation. This tab may also describe opportunities for part-time work, the amount and type of travel required, any safety equipment that is used, and the risk of injury that workers may face.

How to Become One

The How to Become One tab describes how to prepare for a job in the occupation. This tab can include information on education, training, work experience, licensing and certification, and important qualities that are required or helpful for entering or working in the occupation.

Pay

The Pay tab describes typical earnings and how workers in the occupation are compensated—annual salaries, hourly wages, commissions, tips, or bonuses. Within every occupation, earnings vary by experience, responsibility, performance, tenure, and geographic area. For most profiles, this tab has a table with wages in the major industries employing the occupation. It does not include pay for self-employed workers, agriculture workers, or workers in private households because these data are not collected by the Occupational Employment and Wage Statistics (OEWS) survey, the source of BLS wage data in the OOH.

State & Area Data

The State and Area Data tab provides links to state and area occupational data from the Occupational Employment and Wage Statistics (OEWS) program, state projections data from Projections Central, and occupational information from the Department of Labor's CareerOneStop.

Job Outlook

The Job Outlook tab describes the factors that affect employment growth or decline in the occupation, and in some instances, describes the relationship between the number of job seekers and the number of job openings.

Similar Occupations

The Similar Occupations tab describes occupations that share similar duties, skills, interests, education, or training with the occupation covered in the profile.

Contacts for More Information

The More Information tab provides the Internet addresses of associations, government agencies, unions, and other organizations that can provide additional information on the occupation. This tab also includes links to relevant occupational information from the Occupational Information Network (O*NET).

2021 Median Pay

The wage at which half of the workers in the occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. Median wage data are from the BLS Occupational Employment and Wage Statistics survey. In May 2021, the median annual wage for all workers was $45,760.

On-the-job Training

Additional training needed (postemployment) to attain competency in the skills needed in this occupation.

Entry-level Education

Typical level of education that most workers need to enter this occupation.

Work experience in a related occupation

Work experience that is commonly considered necessary by employers, or is a commonly accepted substitute for more formal types of training or education.

Number of Jobs, 2020

The employment, or size, of this occupation in 2020, which is the base year of the 2020-30 employment projections.

Job Outlook, 2020-30

The projected percent change in employment from 2020 to 2030. The average growth rate for all occupations is 8 percent.

Employment Change, 2020-30

The projected numeric change in employment from 2020 to 2030.

Entry-level Education

Typical level of education that most workers need to enter this occupation.

On-the-job Training

Additional training needed (postemployment) to attain competency in the skills needed in this occupation.

Employment Change, projected 2020-30

The projected numeric change in employment from 2020 to 2030.

Growth Rate (Projected)

The percent change of employment for each occupation from 2020 to 2030.

Projected Number of New Jobs

The projected numeric change in employment from 2020 to 2030.

Projected Growth Rate

The projected percent change in employment from 2020 to 2030.

2021 Median Pay

The wage at which half of the workers in the occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. Median wage data are from the BLS Occupational Employment and Wage Statistics survey. In May 2021, the median annual wage for all workers was $45,760.